Permaculture Ethics: Care for the Earth, Care for the People and careful consideration of the needs of others...
One of the first things you will always learn about in permaculture is the ethics:
- care for the Earth, because she is what sustains us;
- care for the People, because we ARE people, and because people who aren’t cared for tend to mess up the Earth;
- and the third ethic, which has been interpreted a variety of ways but, for the purpose of this class, I am summarizing as “careful consideration of the needs of others,” meaning other of ALL species, not just our own. (For a thorough explanation of the permaculture ethics, and the “Heather Jo Flores assertion” about what the third ethic should be, read this article.)
However, though we learn and teach about the “permaculture ethics” in every class, course, and workshop, we too often discuss these ethics as if they are apart from ourselves, and herein lies the rub: if we are not willing to strictly adhere to these ethics ourselves, and to make a commitment, as permaculture designers at whatever level of expertise, to BE the change, rather than just preaching about it, then we’re wasting our time.
And so, for today’s class, we’re asking you to say it out loud, wherever you are right now: I promise to try, every day, to study, honor, and exemplify ALL THREE ethics in my permaculture practice.
Ok yes that feels great...but HOW?
Through your relationship with the land.
Permaculture is: patterns-process-principles-PLACE.
Access to land, gaining it, sharing it, maintaining it, and respecting it are the core ingredients that make permaculture possible. Even if you’re absolutely focused on Social Permaculture, you’re still sleeping somewhere, eating somewhere and, whether you acknowledge it or not, deeply connected to the solid ground on which you conduct your day-to-day existence.
If you can’t find a space to practice your permaculture ideas, you’re not gonna get very far. Yes, of course you can grow pots on your patio and catch graywater from a bucket under the bathroom sink to water them...but that’s not really permaculture, and it would be remiss to pretend like it is. You can practice permaculture in the city, and you can do it if you don’t own property. But if you don't have access to land, on some level, then you have to get out there and find it.
By the same token, if you DO own property, and your plans are to create a permaculture design there: unless you create space within your project to include and support those less fortunate than you, then you’re neglecting the third ethic, and probably the first two as well. Caring for the Earth, caring for the people, and considering the needs of others will always require us to reach far beyond our own property and family’s needs.
If you have it, share it. If you don’t have it, share something else.